With the election just days away, Freeform’s Kal Penn Approves This Message election series finally came to an end. After weeks of tackling “non-partisan” issues like environmental racism, Medicare for All, and why Hillary Clinton is so polarizing, we closed things off with the bold declaration that the Second Amendment “doesn’t apply to black people.” This kind of rhetoric is probably why we don’t let celebrities decide elections.
The October 27 finale “Kal Penn Approves Voting” featureed the eponymous host discussing the importance of voting, much like every other vapid celebrity project. Along with bemoaning an increase in voter ID laws, Penn hosted a mini townhall featuring young liberal activists to talk about issues. One of them included Aalayah Eastmond, a Parkland school shooting survivor and gun control activist, who had a few interesting interpretations of gun laws.
While she claims that she’s “not trying to take anyone’s guns away,” Eastmond clearly didn’t think much about the right to bear arms in the first place. If she did, she wouldn’t claim “for a fact” that the Second Amendment "sometimes doesn’t apply to black people” and that Stand Your Ground laws are "BS" and "racially biased":
Talia: I was just wondering, how do you feel gun reform will impact the Stand Your Ground law? And will it be beneficial or harmful to communities of color?
Aalayah: We know for a fact that the Stand Your Ground law is BS and is racially biased and does target black and brown bodies. Um, as we're in this conversation of gun violence prevention, we absolutely have to push for abolishing the Stand Your Ground law in all of the states that it is present, because we know for a fact that the Second Amendment, um, sometimes doesn't apply to black people. We've seen it with the Brianna Taylor case. So we have to make sure that we're continuing to have this conversation and, absolutely, calling out laws like Stand Your Ground.
Talia: Thank you so much.
Considering some elected officials and journalists don’t seem to understand Stand Your Ground laws, I’m doubtful Aalayah did, either. Furthermore, a case of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker shooting at cops serving a warrant is not a Second Amendment issue. No one has claimed that black people don’t have the right to own a gun and defend themselves.
In case one thought the show was still too unbiased, another guest Kal has on was Ricardo Aca, an immigration rights activist who's advocated for “workers, immigrants, tenants, as well as trans and gender-nonconforming communities of color.” During his questions, he advocated for giving licenses and college education to illegal immigrants so they "can feel included in your community":
Kal: We'll move on to Runal. You're, uh--you're in Iowa. You have a question for Ricardo?
Runal: How do you, as an undocumented person, and as an immigrant activist, uh-- how do you find is the best way to convince people who maybe don't know undocumented people or have undocumented relatives, that these issues matter? Um, and then undocumented people like deserve--deserve basic human rights and deserve to be treated with justice.
Ricardo: Yeah, so I think it's super important to have those conversations like at home with your friends, with your family, um, you know, just about the contributions of undocumented immigrants. Like my family is undocumented, so I like I know what we do, I know what we give up, I know the sacrifices that we've made to be in this country. But I'm looking for things in your state, like does your state provide licenses for undocumented immigrants? Does your state provide financial assistance for students, right, so that they can go to college? So I think it's kind of like super, super important to advocate for those things so that undocumented immigrants can feel included in your community.
Apparently, all illegal immigrants deserve to be given licenses, but voter ID laws would still “disenfranchise” minorities. The activists don’t think too highly of the people they represent.
The rest of the show played out with several more unfunny skits designed to get young people to vote. Quite honestly, if the bombardment of celebrity endorsements in 2016 wasn’t enough for Hillary Clinton, then I doubt this mediocre attempt from Kal Penn was any better. Maybe four years from now, he can try again hopefully without the “non-partisan” label. It would at least be more honest.